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Am I Starting to Become a Mac Fan?
On my trip to California last week, I finished Andy Hertzfeld's book Revolution in the Valley. Its a collection of stories about the development of the Macintosh computer, and reading about the fun and camaraderie involved in building something world-changing really affected my own decision process in deciding to change jobs. While the book is built from stories on Andy's website,, but the real value is with all of the high resolution pictures that are in the book, including staff photos, Polaroids of the original Mac user interface, pages from engineering log books, and spots from magazines and Apple ads. The book is also just fun to read, and even though I'd gone through a lot of the stories on, it was fun seeing them presented again.

When I was at Metrowerks, I was exposed to the "cult of the Mac" for the first time, but I always resisted its call. When I had to use a Mac, I always was frustrated by the interface and unfamiliarity. It was easy to use, but it didn't feel powerful. Later, I had a chance to use Mac OS X on a G4 desktop, and it wasn't too bad, but I never really though it worked better than a well-managed and tweaked Windows system. Now, I'm starting to think that maybe I'll get a Mac this year. The Mac Mini's are really cute and I could reuse a lot of the gear I've accumulated; it might fit in well with my home entertainment center. I made myself promise that I wouldn't buy one until after Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) is released, so I've bought myself some time to decide if an Apple lifestyle is appropriate for me.

Along with this fascination with Mac OS, I've listened to a few good talks from IT Conversations from the 2004 Mac OS X conference. In particular, Wiley Hodges talk about XCode 2.0 and what's going on with developer tools at Apple reminded me of my work at Metrowerks from mid-2003 when the G5 was just a rumor. Apple has done a lot of the investment in their platform that was needed to make it successful, and I'm really looking forward to trying out GCC 4.0 and seeing how much improvements there have been since I last did a lot of GCC-related work.

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I knew you had it in you...

I knew you had a true-blue idealist heart in there :)

Welcome to the utopia beyond the realm of the possible.. Just be careful that you don't begin to resent the platforms and environments that don't bother to aspire beyond "good enough".

My first real API experience was with Mac Pascal (yes, before my unix days). I've never really been able to accomodate myself to PC hell - if I have to do it on the PC, i'll do it in java... or in some high-GL like mathematica (another spoils-you environment).

Welcome to the good side!


My first thoughts upon seeing a Mac (circa 1984):

"Where the hell is my C prompt?!?"
"What's with the cutesy icons? This is a obviously a computer for children."

That said, I learned HTML on a Mac and I still get all warm and fuzzy whenever I have to tweak stuff on my ex-husband's music magazine High Bias. And Mike has no plans to move the production of the site to a PC.

I'd like to be on record that the last time Ben came over, I did not offer him KoolAid...

My biggest worry about switching over to OS X...

... was that people would think I had become a "Mac user" and make me eat with the scientologists at lunch. :)

You might be interested in OS X hints, which is more geared to the technically competent than most Apple sites. Versiontracker is also a good place to dig for apps.

I'd definately double-check to see if your devices are specifically supported under OS X - I've had a lot of ugly surprises that way.

The Mini is nice - I'm tempted to buy one for no other reason than the certainty that Apple will never make a machine this affordable again. But the long line of first-release screwups that Apple's done (The first gen white powerbooks, the Cubes, the first gen B&W G3s... ) leave me wanting to wait and see on this one - That, and the fact that I'm probably going to make my next computer purchase a laptop.

Re: My biggest worry about switching over to OS X...

Well, if I do pick one up once Tiger is released, it would be one of six computers in my office -- my Win2K video editing/email box, my old Portege 90MHz Pentium mini-laptop that runs Linux, the two machines (a Dell desktop and a Dell laptop) I'll be getting for my new palmOne job, and another Linux box (current in parts) that will likely be used to experiment with building a MythTV DVR. Plus, don't forget the little Linksys embedded Linux box that runs my file server using a 250GB Maxtor USB2 drive, plus a pile of PDAs and smartphones that are lying around.

Re: My biggest worry about switching over to OS X...

This Linksys fileserver? Very nice!

I'm in the middle of scraping together a Linux box to (eventually) serve as a file repository(Raid5)/printserver - and turn this JetDirect 500x I found at a yardsale into spendable cash.

What dist. are you using on that laptop? I installed DSL on the 150mhz Pent I have laying around, but configuration has been quite a pain (Trackpad STILL dosen't work, but I got the WinModem and the Sound card) - But that was a last resort after being REALLY dissapointed with KNoppix and RH's performance on the hardware.

Re: My biggest worry about switching over to OS X...

Yes, the NSLU2 is what I've got. I've not loaded the alternative distribution on it yet, but that's in the works.

I put plain Debian on the laptop (nicknamed Charmander, since it's got a big Pokemon sticker on the top), but it's not online very much. I did get a 16-bit PCMCIA 802.11b card for it, but I've not gotten it configured yet. I also have an older 16-bit network card for it, but it's not hooked up to my router right now.

(Disclaimer: blah blah work for apple blah blah blah cult member)

I'm hooked on the Mac; basically the only thing I'm dissatisfied with is the state of gaming on the platform, and I've mostly come around to thinking the XBox is One True Way to play games anyway. (Condensed rant: upgrading hardware sucks. Upgrading drivers sucks. Waiting twenty minutes to install after you put in the disc sucks. XBox Live is the only decent online matchmaking service, period. But playing a nice high resolution LCD display doesn't suck. Life is pain. Sob.)

I grew up Apple (Apple ][+,baby) and owned & used Macs through college. This was pre-Windows 95, and I cared more about the interface than I did about the command line. Then the double punch of Win95 and the Pentium came along, and I bought a nice machine, in part so that I could also run Linux on it. Good times. This machine (with various parts upgraded) served me well until sometime last year, when I finally managed to short something out on a motherboard replacement and had to buy a whole new beast.

Part of why Windows 95 was so seductive to me was that it felt like the classic Apple OS had stagnated at that point; Windows 95 felt fresh, new, and interesting, and OS 7 and onward felt like continued stabs at something that hadn't quite been right in 1984.

I never actually used Windows much as a development environment, though, with the notable exceptions of a summer spent building a server in Java and a year spent developing DHTML. It was mostly "the games & internet box," and I did most of my real hacking on a school-supplied Linux box. So I've always considered myself more of a "Unix guy" than anything else.

So when our little DHTML shop got an offer to come work for Apple in 2001, my first thought was "Apple? Whaaa?" My second thought was, "ooooh, regular paycheck." And my third thought was, "well, hey, this OS X thing might be interesting."

Now it turns out, four years later, that I'd without question buy a Mac as a my primary work machine if I ever left the company. In a nutshell, the reasons are: (a) Unix. It works. It's great. And the UI over the top of it is really really well integrated. I find it painless to swim between the UI level and the terminal level. (b) Hacker weenies don't care enough about the Mac to write viruses for it. (c) Monolithic OS revisions means never having to screw around with finding the right driver for software X. Software X can be targeted for OS release Y, and it'll work. This goes hand in hand with having one vendor control all the hardware production, which makes testing a lot easier. (I work on the software side where we have to do said targeting for an OpenGL app, and man oh man it's night and day). (d) Lots and lots of polish. There are lots of places where things "just work," because Apple seems to do a good job of anticipating the common use cases and doing the right thing for them. Laptops waking instantly from sleep. Network auto-detection. Monitor auto-detection. Plugging in your digital camera or iPod or whathaveyou.

And these are just the non-drooling-fanboy reasons; I've got a whole slew of other motivations revolving around just plain liking the apps I use on this side, but that's more aesthetic. But, yeah, except for the whole games issue, I just find the platform gets out of my way and lets me work a lot better than any of the myriad others I've tried over the years.

Re: For what it's worth

Thanks for the well-reasoned comments. Those are all good points; I'm pretty sure I'll pick up a Mac Mini once 10.4 comes out. Want to trade employee discounts for something neat from palmOne?

Re: For what it's worth

Heh, you pretty much just have to ask and I'll give out an employee discount :). That being said, thanks for reminding me that when I do finally get to the point of wanting to scratch my Palm lust itch again, I've got an inside source!

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